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Rockin' the River 2022

Restoration 154, a local non-profit, will be hosting Rockin’ the River Saturday, July 23, around the Elba downtown square. Rockin’ the River is a festival with a variety of activities and shows celebrating the arts, community, and nature. The festival will begin with a 5k race and kayak race. There will also be a pageant and cornhole tournament. 

All throughout the day into the night, live music and vendors will be gathered on the square to provide a variety of entertainment. The festival brings locals and friends of Elba together to celebrate. 

Rockin’ the River began in 2016 as a collaborative effort between Restoration 154 and the Elba City Chamber of Commerce. Since then, the event expanded from a fun afternoon on the river to an all-day festival. 

Justin Maddox, Rockin’ the River finance manager and Restoration 154 founder, said he believes Rockin’ the River is “about community and getting to know the people who live close to you as well as visitors.”

Starting at 11 a.m., different local musicians will play every hour of the day with an intermission for a parade around the square featuring 154 organizations and notable Elba figures at 1:54 p.m. Throughout the day, artists from Coffee County and the Wiregrass will perform real-time artist demonstrations. A sidewalk chalk competition is open to all. 

The festival is taking place downtown, in part, to celebrate the renovations being made to multiple buildings on the square, especially the Elba Theatre where the Rockin’ the River pageant will take place. 

The annual rubber duck race will be held at 4 p.m. at the Pea River. Ducks will be placed on the river, and the first three to reach the boat ramp will receive cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50 respectively.

Elba’s natural resources will also be celebrated through kayaking. “I like the peacefulness of it, but I also like the excitement of it,” said Maddox. 

Rockin’ the River also highlights Elba’s abundance by inviting local businesses like “Dorsey’s and Ben E. Keith and all of the makers and restaurants here to let people know that we are a special place,” Courtney Pelham stated. 

Rockin’ the River is one project in a series of projects initiated by Restoration 154 to benefit the community. Both Maddox and Pelham are Elba natives who felt compelled to return to Elba.

“When I moved away, I really wasn’t sure that I was coming back,” Maddox admitted. But he came home. He said, “I did have somebody who told me before I left say ‘I really wish that young people like you would come back to town and try to make a difference here’, and that did resonate with me.”

After being away for 15 years, Pelham said she returned home because “I just love the town, and I love the people.” She added, “I’m at a place now as an adult that I just want to do anything that we can to make it the lovely place that it is.” 

Both agree that the efforts of a small group of people can have a powerful effect on the local community, and that the upcoming Rockin’ the River celebration will be a beautiful reflection of life in Elba.

“There are some things that are harder to get off the ground in a small town, but there are also a lot of opportunities that you have to really drive change when you’re in a small town, especially if you’re really going to get involved,” Maddox said.

For more information and to register for events, visit



Tags: Elba

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